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As Puerto Rico's Storm Grows, Muni Market Is Smooth Sailing

  • Funds rake in cash, defaults slow, market rallies amid crisis
  • Atlantic City is also on the brink of a historic bond default
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Puerto Rico Risks Danger of Further Bond Defaults

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You’d never know from looking at the $3.7 trillion municipal market that the largest restructuring in its history is unfolding in Puerto Rico.

Individuals last week poured more money into tax-exempt mutual funds than at any other time this year, just days ahead of the commonwealth’s well-anticipated default on $422 million of Government Development Bank debt. Munis have gained every month this year, only the second time that’s happened since 1999. And on the U.S. mainland, prospects are brightening: S&P Global Ratings has upgraded more localities than it has lowered for 13 straight quarters, the longest streak since 2001. Just nine issuers have defaulted in 2016 apart from Puerto Rico, compared with 24 at this time last year.